Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

&Lack of Depth a Concern Kansas Must Overcome

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

&Lack of Depth a Concern Kansas Must Overcome

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE -- Watching Kansas use just eight players in its first basketball exhibition was a bit alarming.

Sure, the game was against Missouri. And the Jayhawks wanted to win.

Even though the decision to play the Tigers for charity was kind of like flashing a flirtatious smile before turning a cold shoulder on any substantive conversation.

With only eight scholarship players available at the beginning of the season, and just 10 in uniform, concerns were obviously exposed right away regarding the lack of depth KU will carry.

"We get one more player at Christmas,'' Self said of Arizona State transfer wing Sam Cunliffe, "but I'm primarily concerned inside. An injury, or major foul problems, can obviously put you behind the eight-ball, not only for one game, but for the long-term.

"So (depth) is a major concern. Last year obviously we were thin up front as well after Udoka (Azubuike) went down, and this year I'm not sure that we could sustain another injury like that and still have a chance to have a great season.''

Azubuike, the Jayhawks' one true post, did not resume conditioning in earnest until June after recovering from the wrist injury he suffered before the start of Big 12 play last season.

The sky is the limit for the 7-foot sophomore, though minutes could put limits on that potential.

The Jayhawks can no longer augment their frontcourt by bringing Dwight Coleby off the bench after he left for Western Kentucky. Nor can they rely on Jack Whitman, the graduate transfer from William and Mary who left in the summer before ever unpacking his bags.

Still, Azubuike is confident he can handle any workload, even though there was a moment in the second half against Mizzou when he raised his hand to be subbed and was clearly gassed.

"I've been working,'' he said, "and I think I'm in pretty good shape right now and I don't think there's a limit.''

Minutes will escalate, particularly given Self's preference to whittle the KU rotation to eight or fewer down the stretch.

Keeping players healthy for that run, however, is definitely key. …

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